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June 7, 2001
1:36 PM   Subscribe

Tivo hackers today released the hack that enables you to get MPEG-2 video out of the box and put it on CDs, share it over the net, etc. No details because the AVS Tivo site (registration required) is being slashdotted...but will this precipitate a TiVo crackdown on the hackers?
posted by luser (21 comments total)

 
More details here.
posted by luser at 1:40 PM on June 7, 2001


Sweet zombie jesus, this has been the holy grail for TiVo hackers for so long. I can't wait to see what this result will bring (the ethernet in TiVo was the other huge breakthrough, but that's gone pretty much nowhere since it was introduced).
posted by mathowie at 2:23 PM on June 7, 2001


Now I can digitally archive my Charles In Charge reruns!.

TiVo was initially pretty forgiving of it's hacks, as they seemed to help sales and word of mouth. Interesting to see what the breaking point will be for their tolerance.
posted by dong_resin at 2:44 PM on June 7, 2001


Sorry, but if it's not DivX format I don't care anymore.

Besides, can't you do the same thing with a TV card and some compression? I remember DLing the season three finale of Buffy off of the net back when the WB ganked it from its original airing date, so it is workable. Sure, it's not the most efficient system but if you really care about a show and don't feel like voiding your warranty (funny, that) it makes sense.

I think I've got some experimentation to do...
posted by Pinwiz at 2:44 PM on June 7, 2001


DivX?!? You're kidding, right?
posted by silusGROK at 2:52 PM on June 7, 2001


What's wrong with Divx? I downloaded some Dark Angel episodes, and they looked great...
posted by owillis at 2:58 PM on June 7, 2001


Folks, there are two unrelated technical meanings of "DiVX.

"DiVX" was a pay-per-view version of DVD. It's dead now, and good riddance.

"DiVX" is a freeware MPEG4 codec for Windows computers which gets vastly better compression than MPEG2 with little loss of quality, though it's more CPU intensive both on compression and on playback.

I'm not sure just what it is that TIVO can do about this particular thing. They sold a box. How do they have any right to control how it's used?
posted by Steven Den Beste at 3:19 PM on June 7, 2001


Don't confuse DivX, with DIVX. The one referenced by Pinwiz is a technology for video compression, not the failed business move by Circuit City.
posted by Hankins at 3:23 PM on June 7, 2001


Oops, Steven Den Beste is a mind reader and faster typer.
posted by Hankins at 3:25 PM on June 7, 2001


Couldn't you theoretically save your Tivo files as MPEG 2 and then compress them with a DivX tool like Flask?
posted by jasonshellen at 4:04 PM on June 7, 2001


I'm not sure just what it is that TIVO can do about this particular thing. They sold a box. How do they have any right to control how it's used?

They can't stop anyone from modifying the hardware. But they can modify the software, if you subscribe to their service, to make bad things happen to modified boxes. TiVo doesn't have any obligation to provide its service to any hardware configuration but that which came out of the box when you bought the thing.

Up to now TiVo has been tolerant of hardware hacks. The company has strongly suggested that its patience would run out if hackers began exporting video out of the box. This is now happening. Stay tuned....
posted by luser at 4:26 PM on June 7, 2001


They sold a box. How do they have any right to control how it's used? — Steven Den Beste

They sell the box only as a front-end to their service; they claim a right to specify how their service will be used. The service provides local TV listings to the box. TiVo has actually been pretty laid-back till now about people hacking the boxes themselves.

Eventually, all the PVR pieces will come together in standard, open-source, or pirated forms — the TV card, the scheduling DB, the cable/DSS-box IR blaster, the remote control IR receiver, &c. — and then I guess the broadcast industry will be where the recording industry is now — looking for some way to get the TV manufacturers to adopt some end-to-end encryption protocol.
posted by nicwolff at 4:29 PM on June 7, 2001


Which is to say, uh, just what luser just said.
posted by nicwolff at 4:29 PM on June 7, 2001


eh... i'm with pinwiz... i get all my anime DIVX'ed (whole seasons, if need be.) for free already... and i don't even like tv that much anyway.
posted by lotsofno at 4:35 PM on June 7, 2001


Having hacked my own TiVo to add ethernet a couple of weeks ago, I gotta say that I am worried about the implications of this video encoding crack. I did my hack so I could get rid of my analog phone line (got the DSL and mobile phone, so...) and save some money. It would suck if they started to do things -- like blocking non-dialup access to their servers -- to cripple modified machines.
posted by nstop at 5:10 PM on June 7, 2001


As a clarification point, TiVo as a company sells no hardware. The reference hardware was created by TiVo, but Sony, Hughes, RCA, and Philips manufacture and warranty the boxes.
posted by hijinx at 5:19 PM on June 7, 2001


By way of clarification:

The moronic "buy it and rent it *anyway* movie disc format" was "DivX".

The stolen Microsoft MPEG4 compression format is...

"DivX ;-)"

The Winkie is *part* of the formal name.
posted by baylink at 6:38 PM on June 7, 2001


...the broadcast industry will be where the recording industry is now — looking for some way to get the TV manufacturers to adopt some end-to-end encryption protocol.

I think they've already done that – IEEE 1394 (FireWire). The next step is for them to get rid of analog outs on home electronics, which will make any sort of copying extremely difficult.
posted by D at 7:00 PM on June 7, 2001


The topic is basically gone from the AVS Forum. It's kind of interesting to watch, as lots of hackers are either crying foul or just yelling, "Censorship! Censorship!" out loud. Of course, there are now other places to discuss it.

Also, wasn't the compression system - which is really a huge part of the TiVo Service - recently patented? What happens when you reverse engineer a patented thing?
posted by hijinx at 8:28 PM on June 7, 2001


Generally, you get cease and desisted, then sued.
posted by Vetinari at 10:36 PM on June 7, 2001


Cathing up:

Couldn't you theoretically save your Tivo files as MPEG 2 and then compress them with a DivX tool like Flask?

Yeah, you could do that. But I'd assume that you can do the same with a TV card in MPEG 1. Of course, I've yet to try it. Has anyone else?

The Winkie is *part* of the formal name.

Yes, for v3.11. v4, which does not work with v3 drivers and vice-versa (although you can have both installed), is simply called "DivX'.
posted by Pinwiz at 6:51 AM on June 8, 2001


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